Appraisal Fees ARE Being Manipulated
Gas prices in California were $4.25 to $4.50 when oil was last at $100 a barrel. A week ago they were $50+/- a barrel and our pump prices were still over $4.00 a gallon. We are told ‘environmental’ mandated blended methanol is the cause of the $1.30 higher pricing than anywhere else in the Continental US. When those environmental laws were being passed we were told they’d only add from $0.05 to MAX of $0.15 per gallon-NOT $1.30 or 43% more! We KNOW that California politicians have also very recently heavily increased gas taxes in their never ending war against internal combustion. I’ve spoken with friends in the petroleum industry. They readily concede that price manipulation, price fixing and gouging IS taking place, and it happens because refiners know no one will do anything about it. Why? Because politicians blame THEIR tax increases on greedy oil companies! Both sides working together to confuse (& cheat) consumers.
Today, oil dropped nearly 20% to about $43 a barrel. My gas pump price is still over $4.00 a gallon. How odd! Supply and demand economics for oil products have simply evaporated in my state due to political and special interest manipulation.
Fees ARE being manipulated
The SAME applies to appraisal in America. Fees ARE being manipulated. The largest AMCs are also members of REVAA which is an AMC Industry Political Action Group. They reportedly charge annual membership fees of $75,000 for their largest voting board members; and monthly dues of $1,000 a month for other AMCs that want to be members too. The high fees keep the riffraff (small AMCs) out of the club.
Yesterday, I received an article from WorkingRE, a publication of my E&O insurance provider reporting on the activities of Coester (a large East Coast AMC) and Virginia’s AMC regulatory Board. Every appraiser in the country should read this article.
Recently Coester, a REVAA association member filed suit against the Virginia State Appraisers Board for refusing to approve their AMC license. They allege restraint of trade and a host of other far fetched claims. One is that the VA AMC / Appraiser approval ten member board has 6 appraiser-interest members and only one AMC member (who is also an appraiser) plus the other 3 members. My question would be why there are ANY AMC members on a State board regulating appraisers and companies that control them? Coester and its owner have allegedly had numerous violations of multiple states appraisal rules, regulations, laws and Dodd Frank up and down the southeaster US. These have included operating without valid licenses in states; non disclosure of disciplinary actions by principals of the company and a host of other CONSENT acknowledged violations that should prevent ANYONE from doing business in our industry at all.
Instead of restricting themselves to states where they hold a valid AMC license, they sued and the Virginia State Attorney General is urging the Virginia Board to agree to an extension that would permit this unlicensed company to continue doing AMC work in the state until at least December, 2015. Why is unknown. Clearly the Board took the right steps to begin with. The State AG should be backing them up in their decision-not acting as a de facto agent for Coester.
I think the Virginia Coalition of Appraisers has done an outstanding job of getting minimally fair treatment of appraisers legislation passed in their state. Several other state’s appraiser groups have done the same thing.
But how many of these state coalitions can afford to take on the REVAA and its war chest? REVAA has made it abundantly clear that they intend to sue individual states AND state coalitions wherever they have to. They will not willingly give up THEIR Large AMC Only monopolies.
More than ever, we all need to come together in a single national appraisal group to oppose this specific trade group, as well as other national scope issues that arise. We should not expect Professional’s State Coalitions to be replaced, but rather to be augmented by their members and others also being members in the only large, unrestricted appraiser protection membership organization in the country today.
I am talking about the American Guild of Appraisers. The AGA is a Guild within the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) of the AFL-CIO. Americas oldest union.
Contact Jan Bellas at www.appraisersguild.org. Or call 1 (800) 660-1835. We don’t charge anything close to $1,000 a month! Right now, first year membership is only $225 and can be paid in quarterly installments. Normal annual membership is only $375; a LOT less than the oppositions $12,000 a year dues.
If, after reading WorkingRE’s article about this issue you still don’t think you need to join with anyone outside your own peer association, just ask yourself this: “Why didn’t THEY warn me that this is going on?”.
Because they have other more isolated self-interest issues on their radar. They are not focused on ALL of OUR rights as licensed & certified professional appraisers.
The AGA of OPEIU AFL-CIO IS focused.
I have been asked to “remove” comments concerning REVAA from the above post. I’m not sure how one goes about “removing” anything once posted, even if the desire to do so is/was there. I am an appraiser. IF I make a mistake, my training is that explanatory correction is provided, rather than some form of cover up as if the mistake had never taken place. That’s why we used to see addendums rather than retyped “corrected” pages inserted into reports after completion. I am providing copies of recent emails to and from me concerning my original Coester and REVAA posts; and I will be sending Mr. Schiffman a link to the corrected post. Please read BOTH Mr. Schiffman’s explanatory comments as well as the original quoted WorkingRE comments by Mr. Isaac. This does appear to be or to have been an interrelationship among some of the parties involved. Additionally please note that REVAA clarifies (refutes), and states that “…it is not involved in any legal action of its own.” I will be sending a copy of this post to Mr. Schiffman at Mark Schiffman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
[Ford email response to REVAA 08/14/15]
Hello Mr. Schiffman:
Thank you for your recent email. I always strive for accuracy in anything I post and if there is an error in the recent blog post in which REVAA was recently mentioned, I am perhaps among the first wanting to insure that it is corrected, second only to yourselves. Certainly neither I, nor any organization I am affiliated with would want to ever harm another organization or company’s reputation unjustly.
I am attempting to post a copy of your email corrections on the site where the original post took place; & the link to the article I was citing from and the paragraph that lead to the confusion over the relationships of Coester; REVAA and NHVA’s interrelated relationship.
Is it primarily the reference that Coester is/was a member of REVAA that you believe could cause harm to your reputation, or other aspects of the article? Your email referenced only the ‘one correction’ which you yourselves have clarified and which I will endeavor to have posted as requested. If there are others areas of concern please do not hesitate to let me know.
I also agree that win-win solutions are always the best and reflect my own personal goals as well as the organizations that I am a member of; otherwise, I would not be a member there.
California General Certified Real Estate Appraiser,
SCREA, AGA, GAA, RAA, Realtor®
Received via email 08/12/2015
“Good afternoon Mr. Ford, I hope you are well.
One correction for your article below – Mr. Coester is not a member of REVAA and never has been. REVAA is absolutely not involved in any way with his lawsuit in Virginia or any other state. Nor is REVAA involved any legal action of its own. Further, we don’t intend to in the foreseeable future. The organization involved with Mr. Coester is the National Home Valuation Alliance, which is led by Don Kelly and Jim Brodsky (Weiner, Kider, Brodsky). Both of these gentlemen have past affiliation with REVAA but not in this manner.
Please remove REVAA from your post below as soon as possible – it is not accurate and damaging to our reputation. We are a trade organization representing AMC related issues and work very closely with the appraisal organizations such as Appraisal Institute, National Appraisal Congress. We are members of AARO – the trade association for appraisal regulatory officers and the National Association of Appraisers. We work hard to build positive relationships between regulators, AMCs and appraisers. Furthermore, in regard to membership dues, we have two levels – one at $75,000 as reported but we also have a level at $15,000 to encourage broader involvement from smaller AMCs.
We believe our efforts are best served working together, with appraisers and policymakers, to create a fair and balanced regulatory system.
I am happy to talk further.
Mark A. Schiffman
Real Estate Valuation Advocacy Association (REVAA)
[Mike Ford] The entire original post that generated my posts can be found at the following link:
The referenced section that lead to comments concerning REVAA is quoted below.
“Who is Behind the Lawsuit
The law firm representing Coester in this case is Weiner, Brodsky, Sidman, Kider PC (Brodsky firm). This is the same law firm used by the veteran AMC advocacy group the Real Estate Valuation Advocacy Alliance (REVAA), in past legal filings throughout several states, and the one also picked to represent a new AMC coalition, the National Home Valuation Alliance (NHVA). NHVA appears to be led by former REVAA Executive Director Don Kelly.
In a possible sign of things to come, the very first goal and agenda item NHVA lists on its website is, “to leverage collective resources to affect helpful (rather than harmful) change through multiple targeted initiatives, including litigation.”
Information on NHVA’s website echoes certain of Coester’s arguments, including the concern that state appraisal boards are violating antitrust laws. NHVA’s stated goal is to “vigorously represent the interests of its Members in the home valuation arena before the federal government and state agencies.”
In the PowerPoint presentation from NHVA’s Initial Meeting, found on the group’s website, one slide lists “Key Issues/Opportunities” for the organization, which include:
Note that four of the seven items seem to relate to fees, suggesting that the NHVA is deeply concerned about appraiser fees.
- State Appraiser Fees Survey Policies and Requirements
- Customary and Reasonable Appraiser Fee Requirements
- Timely Payment of Appraiser Fee Requirements
- State Appraisal Board Antitrust Concerns
- AMC Representation on State Boards
- Required AMC Minimum Quality Control Requirements
- Appraisal Subcommittee AMC Fee Structures
Note that four of the seven items seem to relate to fees, suggesting that the NHVA is deeply concerned about appraiser fees. It looks like appraisers will have a fight on their hands going forward.
NHVA is representing itself as the advocacy organization for smaller to mid-size AMCs. REVAA charges $75,000 annually for membership and representation. NHVA dues are a more modest $995 a month. NHVA’s stated goal is 30 charter members and says that it sees the over 350 AMCs operating nationwide as potential prospects.”
Readers are directed to REVAAs clarification comments and should draw their own conclusions based on factual data presented.